16 April 2014

News Story: Malaysia Advances With 8-Wheeled Armored Vehicle


By WENDELL MINNICK

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s top armored vehicle manufacturer, Deftech, has begun the qualification stage for its eight-wheel-drive AV-8 armored wheeled vehicle and will produce 257 units with 12 variants for the country’s Army when tests are concluded, said Deftech CEO Amril Samsudin this week at the Defence Services Asia exhibition here.

The AV-8 program is part of a manufacturing partnership agreement with Turkey’s FNSS Defense Systems and is based on the FNSS-designed PARS (Leopard) multimission wheeled vehicle, an FNSS source said.

Deftech and FNSS began discussions in 2008 and came to an agreement in 2010, Amril said. “We will deliver the first of 12 units to the Army by the end of this year, … and expect the final delivery by the end of 2018.”

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Saab Offers Info on Gripen Lease to Malaysia


By ANDREW CHUTER

KUALA LUMPUR — Saab has confirmed it has submitted proposals to the Malaysian government for the lease of Gripen fighters but said it wasn’t responding to a formal request for information.

Company executives said they delivered proposals earlier this year but wouldn’t reveal how many ex-Swedish Air Force C/D model aircraft are involved or the length of a possible lease deal.

Local Malaysian company DRB Hicom Defence Technologies will be its partner. The two companies already team on Saab’s bid to secure an airborne early warning aircraft program in Malaysia.

The Gripen fighter jet maker is the only one of the potential suppliers for Malaysia’s requirement for a multirole aircraft to at least partially declare its hand after the government in Kuala Lumpur effectively stalled a program to purchase jets outright and encouraged competitors to come up with a more affordable solution.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Australia Likely To Order More F-35s


By Bradley Perrett

Australia is likely to commit to buying 58 more Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightnings this month, setting aside the alternative of consolidating its combat aircraft squadrons on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The decision will increase the country's total commitment to 72 F-35s and expand the Royal Australian Air Force's fast-jet fleet, counting a separate order for 12 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft as additional to, not part of, the fighter force renewal.

The defense department has recommended the F-35 order, probably worth around $8 billion, and the proposal has the endorsement of a leading think-tank. The government shows every sign of accepting the recommendation, says a source closely connected to the authorities. Accordingly, Lockheed Martin has probably escaped the danger of losing one of its largest F-35 customers, one that has already backed away from an original requirement for about 100 of the stealthy fighters. Even the risk that Australia could trim its commitment a little further now looks low, although that option was suggested by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think-tank.

Read the full story at Aviation Week

Editorial: China and Japan Seek Detente?


By Zachary Keck

All signs suggest that China and Japan are quietly trying to improve ties.

 A number of signs suggest that Japan and China are cautiously trying to improve relations.

Perhaps most notably, Hu Deping, the son of former reformist General Secretary of the CCP, Hu Yaobang, visited Tokyo earlier this month. Hu, who is a close confidant of Chinese President Xi Jinping, was in Japan from April 6 to April 14. The trip was organized by Japan’s Foreign Ministry and approved by the Chinese Communist Party.
During the trip, Hu was scheduled to meet with a number of Japanese officials including: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Yohei Kono, a former speaker of the Lower House. Hu’s meeting with Kishida supposedly took place in the offices of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; however, Prime Minister Abe was not expected to attend.
On Tuesday, though, Asahi Shimbun reported that Hu had secretly met with Prime Minister Abe himself during the trip. According to the report, Hu and Abe “talked about Tokyo’s stance toward Beijing, and discussed the future of Japan-China relations. During the meeting, Abe is believed to have told Hu that Tokyo is ready to hold dialogue and make efforts to mend bilateral relations.” The report went on to say that the CCP had approved the meeting because of its apparent desire to improve relations with Japan before it hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing in November of this year. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Why the Senkaku/Diaoyu Dispute Isn't Going Away Anytime Soon


By Ankit Panda

The dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is going to remain a major issue in China-Japan relations for a while.

It’s a shame that relations between Japan and China have deteriorated so sharply in recent years. Perhaps no dispute highlights this deterioration better than the territorial spat over the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands — a favorite topic for many of us writing here at The Diplomat. For the moment, high-level diplomacy between China and Japan is effectively non-existent and will likely remain so as long as Shinzo Abe remains in charge in Tokyo. His reputation as an ardent Japanese nationalist is unpalatable to Chinese leaders who perceive him as out to revise Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution and normalize Japan’s military posture to the detriment of Chinese interests in the region.
The Senkaku/Diaoyu conflict, however, in reality was not borne of Abe. The nationalization of the islands was one of the final acts of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda during his last months in office. Noda purchased the islands, upsetting the careful de facto balance of ambiguous sovereignty that China and Japan had enjoyed for years. Sure, an earlier incident in 2010, when a Chinese fishing boat collided with Japanese coast guard caused a major diplomatic row, resulting in a temporary Chinese embargo on rare-earth metal exports to Japan, but the dispute was not a constant source of tension between the two countries. In those days, Chinese and Japanese diplomats were able to make progress on other issues, unencumbered by the territorial dispute.
Noda’s purchase of the islands was well-intentioned. He nationalized the islands to prevent the ultra-nationalist Shintaro Ishihara, then the governor of Tokyo, from purchasing the islands and carrying out Japanese construction projects there to project sovereignty. Noda figured that the purchase would actually preserve the status quo but he was unfortunately wrong. The shift from de facto to de jure sovereignty has led to over 18 months of tension between China and Japan — tension that was aggravated when Shinzo Abe came to power in December 2012. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China, Russia Seek 'Enhanced Mutual Political Support'


By Shannon Tiezzi

During the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Beijing, China and Russia extolled their growing relationship.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, was in China Tuesday. During his visit, Lavrov held meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as well as President Xi Jinping. According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lavrov’s visit was primarily designed to “lay the groundwork” for President Vladimir Putin’s scheduled visit to China in May. In addition to paying an official state visit, Putin will also attend the quadrennial Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit, to be held in Shanghai.
China and Russia have been working hard to tighten their relationship, especially since Xi Jinping assumed the presidency in March 2013. Since then, Xi has visited Russia three times, most recently to attend the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics. Russia was, in fact, the destination chosen for Xi’s very first trip abroad, symbolizing the importance Xi and China’s government place on ties with Moscow.
During his meeting with Lavrov, Xi Jinping said that relations between China and Russia “are at their best” and have played “an irreplaceable role in maintaining world peace and stability.” China’s Foreign Ministry dubbed China-Russia ties the “major-country relationship that boasts the richest contents, the highest level and the greatest strategic significance.” Of course, China’s other main “major-country relationship” is with the United States—spokesperson Hua Chunying was implicitly contrasting the progress in China-Russia relations with recent tensions in the China-U.S. relationship.
In terms of moving the relationship forward, Xi called for “enhanced political mutual support” between China and Russia. Lavrov responded that China and Russia’s “bilateral strategic partnership of coordination has global influence.” Many analysts have theorized that China backs Russia on controversial international issues (such as blocking UN Security Council resolutions dealing with the Syrian civil war) in hopes of gaining similar Russian support for problems of deep concern to China. Xi and Lavrov’s words hint at this give-and-take relationship, which keeps either country from being isolated in the face of opposition from the West. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China’s National Security Commission Holds First Meeting


By Shannon Tiezzi

Xi Jinping made it clear that both domestic stability and external security are on the agenda for the new commission.

Last November, during the Third Plenum, China announced the formation of a new national security commission, to be chaired by President Xi Jinping. At the time, analysts wondered what the focus of the new commission would be—would it be externally focused, or more concerned with China’s internal stability?
Writing for The Diplomat, Wen-Ti Sung hypothesized that the new national security body would be primarily focused on domestic security. Even without the new commission, Xi Jinping already had control over foreign affairs, but much less so over China’s “stability maintenance” forces. However, the commission was also believed to be a way to streamline decision-making with regards to the military, meaning a focus on traditional national security issues as well.
The national security commission held its first meeting on Tuesday, finally giving some hints as to the purpose and function of the new organ. Chinese state media outlet Xinhua gave prominent coverage to the meeting, with headlines on both its English and Chinese webpages. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US to Help Taiwan Build Attack Submarines

Hai Lung class submarine (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Zachary Keck

Taiwan’s defense chief has confirmed that Washington will help Taipei build diesel-electric attack submarines (SSK).

The U.S. has agreed to help Taiwan build its own diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs), Taiwan’s defense chief told parliament on Monday.
During testimony to the Legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Monday, Defense Minister Yen Ming told lawmakers that the U.S. “is willing to help us build the submarines together.” He added that Taiwan would continue to push the U.S. and other countries to sell it eight diesel-electric submarine.
Back in 2001, the U.S. under President George W. Bush agreed to sell Taiwan eight submarines to help it defend itself against China’s growing military power. Negotiations were slow at first due to financial constraints and domestic politics in Taiwan. Then, the U.S. stopped producing non-nuclear powered submarines. Finding a third country to produce the submarines has proved difficult due to China’s fierce opposition.
Defense Minister Yen’s confirmation comes just days after Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou told a U.S. think tank that Taiwan was pushing for foreign help in constructing its own submarines. Speaking by video to the Center for Strategic and International Studies last Wednesday, President Ma said: “There seems to be a consensus in Taiwan that we should seek foreign technology to help us build (the submarines) ourselves.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

15 April 2014

AUS: Exercise Sea Dawn 2014


All three services of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) have come together for Exercise Sea Dawn 2014 in north Queensland for joint amphibious training.

The Army's 3rd Brigade is taking part, with soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.

The exercise provides Navy, Army and Air Force personnel with the chance to work together and develop critical skills necessary for the Defence's development of a joint capability to soon execute the full spectrum of amphibious operations.

Exercise Sea Dawn involves the Amphibious Task Group with joint enablers from across the ADF. The exercise runs from 24 March - 16 April.


News Story: Official - India Will Need To Hike Defense Spending by 30% To Narrow Gap With China


By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI

NEW DELHI — Indian defense planners will need to hike defense spending by at least 30 percent for about 10 years to narrow the military differences between India and China, said an Indian Army official.

China spends over $100 billion on defense annually, about triple that of India’s more than $33 billion.

India will spend $150 billion in the next 10 years on new weapons from overseas and domestic sources, the Indian Army official. However, boosting spending 30 percent would require an additional $50 billion.

Given the current state of the Indian economy with an annual growth of less than 5 percent and a high fiscal deficit, the government will find it very difficult to find the additional money, said Nitin Mehta, defense analyst here.

Read the full story at DefenseNews